WR long sprinter Roland Gröger: ‘I love to run and I love to run fast’

Roland and his coach Daniele Biffi.

Roland and coach Daniele Biffi.

Roland Gröger lives in Berlin with his family. He’s a sports, German and math teacher in a primary school. He competed in East Berlin until age 25 in 1989 — the year the wall fell. And then he took a 15-year break. At age 40, he says, he resumed track. And he hasn’t slowed down since his German Democratic Republic days. I asked him about his all-time youth bests. He said 60 in 6.92, 100 in 10.7 (hand-timed), 200 in 22.0 (also hand-timed) and 400 in 53.5 (must have been in a drenching tornado). He owns 2014 Budapest world indoor gold in the 4×200 and many golds and silvers in recent European masters championships. He sent a link to video of his M50 indoor world record for 400 (a 52.39 that I didn’t do justice!) He graciously answered other questions as well. Responses were edited for clarity.


Masterstrack.com: When did you resume track and field? Why?

Roland Gröger: I resumed track and Field at the age of 40 because I like it. I love to run and I love to run fast.
Did you expect to run 51.02? What was your goal that day? What were conditions like?
I ran 51.42 in June twice in seven days. I am in amazing form now. My coach Daniele Biffi and I wanted to break the WR (51.39) and the German record of Guido Müller (51.31). To run so close to the WR two times was a great pity and gave me a lot of power and motivation!

The first 51.42 had been a great surprise, I wanted to run a sub-52 but neither me nor my trainer could imagine that I could have been run a great time like that! The conditions were very well, 26 degrees (78.8F)° sun and no wind. My reaction time was bad.

The second time I ran well, and it was cold (15/59). Little rain and a lot of wind.

We have worked very hard in the last six weeks; we have improved also my start and have worked on my reaction time. (This time was very good!) I thought I could run a 51.30 but not a 51.02. But my coach always said to me that I can run 50.80, now I believe him!
What were your 200 splits in the 51?  Could you have gone faster that day?
A friend of mine took 24.5. I had a great race, good start. I felt very good the first 200, then an amazing second curve and a strong finish as I used to do. I think I’ve done a perfect race, so I cannot imagine that I could have run faster then 51.02. My dream now is to be the first over 50 who runs a 50.
Some people say the lack of a railing on the track may prevent recognition of a world record. What have you been told about your record ratification prospects?
The track is an official one, I’ve also run Germans records there. There were official judges (some also worked at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin 2009). I take for good what the federation will decide.
What are your plans the rest of the season? Can you go faster?
I want to do a great World Championship in Perth. My trainer said that I can run faster. I want to run faster. We will see if I will run faster. In two weeks I run the 400 again.
Do people in your town or company know you are a champion sprinter? How have they congratulated you?
In the athletic world, I am pretty famous in Berlin and also in Germany. My friends and other people know than I am a faster man. I’ve received and I still receive a lot of congratulations. It’s amazing. I’ve received a lot of mails, calls, messages. I thank all of them.

Also Guido Müller (I am a big fan of his) wrote me a very nice mail. Guido is a great person and a fantastic athlete. He is my inspiring example.

And because of your website, I also got a lot of best wishes from all over the world. I’m very happy that, for example, Fancois Boda from USA (silver medalist in Lyon) sent me a fantastic mail.
What do you think of Douglas Kalembo’s claim to running a sub-50 at age 50?

I do not know this story. There are commissions who decide the validity of a world record — 49.85 is a great time!
What are your long-term goals in masters athletics? How long will you run?
To have fun, to be healthy and to be as fast as possible. I will run as long as I can.
Roland shared these videos.
The M50 final in the 200 at Eurovets indoors

M50 German outdoor record in 200: 23.15

M50 world indoor record in 400: 52.39

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August 30, 2016

10 Responses

  1. Pino Pilotto Luzern - August 31, 2016

    Lieber Roland Gröger
    Deine Sprintresultate sind grossartig und am grossartigsten dein 400er!
    Caro Daniele, vedo che sei l’allenatore di Roland; grandissimi complimenti anche a te.
    Roland & Daniele siete dei grandi!!!
    Wish you more great results! Greater would be difficult 😉

  2. whowouldbeyourdaddy - August 31, 2016

    His times speak for themselves. However……I can’t imagine him not being faster in the 400; when he was a 10.7/22.o guy. No way he’s only 53.5. I’ll second Ken’s drenching tornado scenario…..and throw in he ran backwards to boot !

  3. Tony Echeandia - August 31, 2016

    Excellent Time and Effort!

  4. Christel Donley - August 31, 2016

    Fun to read and hopefully to witness it in Perth.
    When he talks about his trainer, translate that to: his COACH.

    I still marvel about my NOW 95 year old coach back in Hamburg

  5. Milan Jamrich - August 31, 2016

    When you say: “Some people say the lack of a railing on the track may prevent recognition of a world record” you mean David Ortman?

    In the USA, it is not uncommon to have the railings removed in track competitions. This is done to accommodate high jumpers and javelin throwers. Races are run without replacing the railings, nobody cares about the railings. Ok, maybe David Ortman..

  6. David E. Ortman (M63), Seattle, WA - August 31, 2016

    As a world class high jumper Mr. Jamich (#4) is correct that IAAF Rule 160 says:
    “if a section of the kerb on a bend has to be temporarily removed for Field events, its place on the surface beneath shall be marked with a white line 50mm in width and by cones or flags, minimum height 0.20m, placed on the white line so that the edge of the base of the cone or flag pole coincides with the edge of the white line closest to the track, and placed at intervals not exceeding 4m. (Flags shall be placed at an angle of 60° with the ground away from the track.)”

    You saw this at the Olympic competition during the Womens High Jump where they removed the curb and put in cones, then tried to DQ three 5,000m runners who stepped on the line on the last lap.

    However, this has nothing to do with whether the track itself includes the required inside curb in the first place.

  7. Milan Jamrich - September 1, 2016

    You are right David, but I have never seen it done in masters competitions. Typically we just remove the railings and the races are ran without the removed sections.

  8. Daniele Biffi - September 1, 2016

    Grazie Pino e grazie anche da parte di Roland! Spero di rivederti presto dal vivo in azione, magari proprio in svizzera, chissa´ 🙂

    Daniele Biffi

  9. Mike Sullivan - September 2, 2016

    Nice indoor 400 51.39 Roland, I watched it for 1st time …today ..You broke my indoor world record of 52.44 and ran basically by yourself!!…Records are made to be broken….

    and great outdoor time too….!!! WR


  10. Roland Groeger - September 4, 2016

    thank you very much for positive feedback. I’m really happy that so wondeful sportsmen like for exmaple Sully write so positive words.
    Hope I will meet some of you in Perth! Many greetings Roland

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